Ethics Commission start-up has been complicated
In its first nine months of existence, the Tennessee Ethics Commission "may be making its job harder by giving the appearance of struggling with open government issues," the Associated Press says. "The commission has trained lawmakers and lobbyists on ethical standards and collected forms disclosing conflicts of interest from a range of public officials." But, the report says, the panel also has failed to grant a public records request, is considering meeting privately with attorneys to discuss how to respond to records requests and has disagreed on how much freedom its staff should be allowed in answering questions about ethics laws. Read the full story on WKRN.com.
Click on the category of your choice to view summaries of today’s opinions from that court, or other body. A link at the end of each case summary will let you download the full opinion in PDF format. To search all opinions in the TBALink database, go to our OpinionSearch page. If you have forgotten your password or need to obtain a password, you can look it up on TBALink at http://www.tba.org/getpassword.mgi.
01 - TN Supreme Court
00 - TN Worker's Comp Appeals
00 - TN Supreme Court - Rules
02 - TN Court of Appeals
03 - TN Court of Criminal Appeals
00 - TN Attorney General Opinions
00 - Judicial Ethics Opinions
00 - Formal Ethics Opinions - BPR
TBA members can get the full-text versions of these opinions three ways detailed below.
All methods require a TBA username and password. If you have forgotten your password or need to obtain a password,
you can look it up on-line at http://www.tba.org/getpassword.mgi
Here's how you can obtain full-text version. We recommend you download the Opinions to your computer and then
open them from there. Click the URL at end of each Opinion paragraph below. This should give you the option to
download the original document. If not, you may need to right-click on the URL to get the option to save the file
to your computer. Do a key word search in the Search Link area of TBALink. This option will allow you to view
and save a plain-text version of the opinion. Browse the Opinion List area of TBALink.
This option will allow you to download the original version of the opinion.
Howard H. Vogel
SUPREME COURT DISCRETIONARY APPEALS Grants & Denials List
RICHARD BROWN, JR. v. TENNESSEE BOARD OF PROBATION AND PAROLE
Richard Brown, Jr., Mountain City, Tennessee, Pro Se.
Paul G. Summers, Attorney General and Reporter, Michael E. Moore, Solicitor General, Kellena
Baker, Assistant Attorney General, for the appellee, Tennessee Board of Probation and Parole.
An inmate filed a petition for writ of certiorari challenging a Board of Parole decision and alleged
several grounds, including lack of notice and discrimination. The trial court found the petitioner
alleged no grounds upon which to disturb the board's decision, and we affirm.
SMITH COUNTY, TENNESSEE, ET AL. v. DAVE ENOCH
Marcy E. Adcock, McMinnville, Tennessee, and James B. Dance, Carthage, Tennessee, for the
appellant, Dave Enoch.
Jack O. Bellar, Carthage, Tennessee, for the appellees, Smith County, Tennessee, and Smith County
The operator of an automobile junkyard in Smith County appeals the permanent injunction issued
against him by the Chancery Court enjoining him from maintaining an excessive number of
inoperable vehicles within one thousand feet of a county road in violation of the Smith County
Junkyard Control Act, Chapter 97 of the Private Acts of 1987. The junkyard operator contends the
evidence was insufficient to support the findings and conclusions of the trial court. Finding the
evidence more than sufficient, primarily due to admissions by the operator of the junkyard, we
STATE OF TENNESSEE v. DEVIN BANKS
Phyllis Aluko, Memphis, Tennessee, for the Appellant, Devin Banks.
Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Michael Moore, Solicitor General; Clarence
Lutz, Assistant Attorney General; William L. Gibbons, District Attorney General, Stacy McEndree,
Assistant District Attorney General, and Karen Cook, Assistant District Attorney General, for the
Appellee, State of Tennessee.
A Shelby County jury found the Appellant, Devin Banks, guilty of the first degree premeditated
murder of Kadhem Al-Maily and the Class A felonies of criminal attempt to commit first degree
murder and especially aggravated robbery of Hussain Atilebawi. Following the penalty phase
hearing, the jury found the presence of two statutory aggravating circumstances and imposed the
sentence of death. In a separate sentencing hearing, the trial court sentenced Banks to twenty-five
years for each of the Class A felonies and ordered them to be served consecutively to one another
and to the sentence of death. Banks now seeks review by this court of both his convictions and
resulting sentences, presenting the following issues for review: (1) whether the evidence is sufficient
to sustain his convictions; (2) whether the trial court erred in admitting a photograph of the surviving
victim; (3) whether the trial court erred in admitting Banks' statements absent a ruling on the motion
to suppress; (4) whether the trial court erred in admitting hearsay statements made by the victim; (5)
whether the trial court failed to properly certify the Arabic translator; (6) whether the trial court
failed to properly instruct the jury as to lesser included offenses; (7) whether the indictment failed
to charge a capital offense; (8) whether the victim impact jury instruction was coercive; (9) whether
the closing argument by the prosecutor was improper; (10) whether the sentences for the non-capital
offenses are excessive; (11) whether Tennessee's death penalty statutes are constitutional; and (12)
whether the death sentence in this case is disproportionate to death sentences in other cases.
Following review, we affirm Banks' convictions for first degree murder, criminal attempt to commit
first degree murder, and especially aggravated robbery. His sentences for the Class A felony
convictions are also affirmed. We further conclude that the evidence does not support application
of the (i)(6) statutory aggravating circumstance. Nonetheless, we conclude that the error is harmless,
and the sentence of death is affirmed.
BOBBY RAYLE v. STATE OF TENNESSEE
Gregg Eichelman, District Public Defender, and R. Russell Mattocks, Assistant District Public
Defender, Morristown, Tennessee, for the appellant, Bobby Rayle.
Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General & Reporter, Rachel E. Willis, Assistant Attorney General;
C. Berkeley Bell, District Attorney General; Doug Godbee and Virgil Everhart, Assistant District
Attorneys General, for the appellee, State of Tennessee.
The petitioner, Bobby Rayle, pled guilty to one count of child rape in the Hawkins County Criminal
Court. Pursuant to the plea agreement, he received a sentence of fifteen years as a Range I, standard
offender to be served at one hundred percent. The petitioner timely filed a petition for postconviction
relief alleging that his guilty plea was not voluntarily or knowingly made and that he was
denied the effective assistance of counsel. After a full evidentiary hearing, the trial court denied
relief. Following our review, we affirm the denial of post-conviction relief.
STATE OF TENNESSEE v. ELBERT TATE
Gary F. Antican, District Public Defender, and David S. Stockton and Julie K. Pillow, Assistant
District Public Defenders, for the appellant, Elbert Tate.
Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Sophia S. Lee, Assistant Attorney General;
Mike Dunavant, District Attorney General; and Tracey Brewer, Assistant District Attorney General,
for the appellee, State of Tennessee.
The defendant, Elbert Tate, was convicted of voluntary manslaughter (Class C felony) and sentenced
as a multiple offender to ten years, consecutive to the sentence he was then serving. He appeals his
conviction and asserts two issues: 1) the evidence was insufficient to support the conviction for
voluntary manslaughter; and 2) the trial court erred in excluding corroborating evidence of the
victim's propensity for violence. We conclude, after review, that the evidence sufficiently supported
the conviction and that the exclusion of the offered testimony was error, but harmless. We affirm
| Legal News
TBA Member Services
|Bush says aides will not testify
|President Bush invoked executive privilege today, denying requests by Congress for testimony from two former aides about the firings of federal prosecutors, the Associated Press reports.
This was the latest step in a slow-motion legal waltz between the White House and lawmakers toward eventual contempt-of-Congress citations. If neither side yields, the matter could land in federal court.
|The Knoxville News Sentinel has this AP story
|Couple files suit against judge in custody case
|A Virginia couple has filed a federal lawsuit against 1st Judicial District Chancellor Richard Johnson for alleged civil rights violations stemming from a Washington County child custody case, The Johnson City Press reports.
The suit alleges Johnson violated the couple's rights to due process and caused severe emotional injuries to the family by denying them custody and visitation with the woman's 12-year-daughter without conducting a hearing, without reporting allegations that they abused the girl to authorities and without appointing a guardian to investigate the allegations for the court.
|Justices need a break, too
|Where do U.S. Supreme Court justices go for summer vacation?
|Find out on Law.com
|Public defender makes staff changes
|Hamilton County Public Defender Ardena Garth has fired a longtime investigator, and she said an attorney in the office quit after she gave him a choice to quit or be fired.
|Read more in the Chattanoogan.com
|LexisNexis buys Brentwood-based Juris
|LexisNexis today announced it is acquiring Juris Inc., the Brentwood based software firm that serves small- and medium-sized law firms nationally, the Nashville Post reports
|Read the full story
|Editorial: Blow to 'Brown v. Board' calamitous
|In an article written for the Commercial Appeal's Editorial Board, citizen member and lawyer Daniel Kiel writes about the Supreme Court's recent decsion that amounts to "sticking a fork in the most revered decision of the 20th century, Brown v. Board of Education."
The court's decision "is potentially calamitous because it handcuffs districts that are working to achieve racial diversity." He writes that "the way to end discrimination on the basis of race is to create a world where the playing field for individuals of all backgrounds is as level as possible. That leveling begins in our schools."
|Read the editorial
|Hamilton County Schools' legal bills top $2 million
|The Hamilton County School system has paid over $2.2 million to a California law firm handling an autism case that was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, the Chattanoogan.com reports. County School Board member Rhonda Thurman said, "We have got to cut out this out-of-town attorney and turn it over to our local attorney.
We can't keep paying all these fees and travel expenses."
Read a breakdown of the fees,
|Court says worker not at fault
|The Tennessee Supreme Court ruled recently that a worker whose hand was crushed by machinery at his workplace was not to blame for the accident despite his admitted marijuana use off the job.
Read the AP story
|Read the opinion
|Pro bono is branching out
|Pro bono is not just for liberals anymore, the American Lawyer reports. A case in point is the recent controversial 5-4 decision where the court ruled against the use of race in public school enrollment.
|Read about the changing face of pro bono
|TBA Member Services
|Let JobLink help you with your next career move
|A career service for Tennessee attorneys and law students, TBA JobLink is a job seeking and recruitment tool available at no charge. Whether you have a position to fill or are seeking employment, this site will guide you through a simple process to post your information.
|Visit the site
|A TBA Today item Friday incorrectly referred to comments from a former Rutherford County jail officer as being directed toward "the city's police department." The charges of harassment and racist tendencies attributed to William Robinson in a Tennessean article were actually directed toward the Rutherford County Sheriff's Office.
|Read the full article